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One of the golden rules of staying fit and healthy is to exercise regularly, but a surprising number of people do not undertake any exercise at all. 

In a recent study analysing the exercise data of over one million people living in England, a shocking eight per cent of adults who were able to walk had not done so for five minutes continuously over a four-week period.

The study, carried out by the University of Bristol, also found that 80 per cent of its respondents did not meet the government target of taking moderate exercise at least 12 times in a month.

Guidelines on physical activity

According to NHS guidelines on physical activity, adults should exercise at moderate intensity for at 150 minutes every week, or high intensity, vigorous aerobic activity for at least 75 minutes.

This should be supplemented by muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days to work major muscle groups.

Moderate intensity activities High intensity activities Muscle strengthening activities
  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging or running
  • Lifting weights or heavy loads such as groceries
  • Cycling
  • Aerobics
  • Activities involving a resistance band or using your own body weight for resistance such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • Pushing a lawn mower
  • Fast swimming or cycling
  • Heavy gardening, such as digging or shovelling
  • Doubles tennis
  • Singles tennis
  • Yoga
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Football
  • Pilates
  • Water aerobics
  • Skipping rope

 

 

Exercise tips for the summer

Long working hours, busy lives and a demanding family can all take its toll, but it's easier than you think to fit exercise into your day. Get active and try these summer exercises. 

Take a plunge in the pool

Swimming is a fantastic all-round exercise. Don't get caught up in having to swim consistently for 30 minutes. 10-minute sessions are enough to get the heart racing and add up throughout the day. Even treading water is a great way to work the cardiovascular system.

Using floats can be a fun way of working different muscle groups. Hold a float with your hands and do flutter kicks to work your quadriceps and hamstrings, or try to keep afloat whilst balancing a float between the legs to work the shoulders, arms and back.

Hit the beach

Whether you’re on holiday or live near the sea, the beach can be a relaxing way to get some exercise. Going for a walk is one of the simplest ways to get fit and walking on sand can add some extra resistance. Walking bare-footed can be a great workout for the feet, shins and calves, whilst alternating walking, jogging, and sprinting can work the lower body and get the heart rate elevated.

Use your beach towel to do some muscle-strengthening exercises such as lunges, push-ups or abdominal crunches and finish with some stretching, deep breathing and meditation.

Picnic in the park

Socialising with friends and family in the park offers a host of opportunities to get active. Playing team sports such as football or cricket can increase agility, improve endurance and build muscle strength. Even playing Frisbee can work off excess calories and doesn't feel much like exercise. 

Alternatively, go for a jog and use the park bench to do warm up and stretching exercises.

Do watersports

Kayaking and canoeing not only develop the arm and shoulder muscles, but also tone the stomach and strengthen the back. To make sure you're getting the full benefit, use your feet as stabilisers when you push the paddle through the water and not just your arms.

Likewise, surfing and water skiing are particularly effective in strengthening the torso muscles. Surfing is the watersport equivalent of doing several sets of push-ups as you repeatedly use the board to lift up your body, and try and stand and use yours arms to paddle across the waves.

Work out in the mountains

Hiking, particularly with poles, is a great full body workout. Using poles allows you to involve your upper body in an exercise that usually only involves the legs. They can add intensity to a hike by making you move with quicker, smaller steps but can also be useful for beginners by reducing stress on the knees and distributing the body's weight more evenly.

Mountain biking meanwhile may be your preferred way of taking in the mountain views. Using a bike can help tone your quad, calf and glute (buttock) muscles as well as strengthen your tendons, without any load bearing - meaning that it is easier on your joints and reduces the risk of injury.